It was a hot August day. They dressed me up for my first day of kindergarten. Standing on our front porch posing for a picture with my mom, I hoped I would wake up from this nightmare. School wasn’t for me. Hadn’t I made that perfectly clear? Clutching my mom’s hand, I walked into that big brick building, not knowing how I would make it through without her. I still remember the way I wanted to run and hide so she wouldn’t leave me alone there.
But this day held a surprise for me. It was the day I met her. The girl who would be my very first forever friend. I was five years old, and as shy as a kindergartner could be. I sat at a table in the classroom, on the verge of tears. A little hand slipped me a crayon and a coloring page. Words were few, but that moment is permanently forged in my heart. How could she have known my mom colored with me all the time? (She didn’t.) The comfort of being handed a simple crayon would fashion a friendship I still have over 40 years later.
I believe friendship is an intricate work of art. It takes shape by the careful handling and time we give it. There are many characteristics of genuine friendship. As we explore these traits in our series, “Coffee Talk,” I hope this helps your personal relationships bloom and grow into beautiful reflections of our amazing Creator.
In Christian friendships, we live by the example of Christ. We choose His way so others will see Him in us. Compassion, kindness, gentleness, patience, humility are all needed. But today, I would like to focus on the non-negotiable trait that can be the hardest to extend: forgiveness. It is impossible to be in a friendship without understanding the meaning of forgiveness and then extending it. We are human. We will disappoint each other and even hurt one another. But, in a true God-centered friendship, there will always be a way to reconcile. The Holy Spirit dwells in us and gives us the power to forgive offenses, just as God has forgiven us.
Please hear me when I say there is a tremendous difference between a damaged, godly friendship and a toxic, harmful relationship. Forgiving your sisters in Christ allows the restoring of your relationship while honoring God in the process. Forgiving someone who takes advantage of your friendship is possible with the help of His Holy Spirit. However, this relationship must be guarded. Scripture tells us not to run in circles with the wicked, to avoid evildoers, and to be watchful of the enemy’s schemes. In Proverbs 27:6, we read:
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. (NLT)
Remember this: in healthy, authentic friendships, both parties will attempt to rebuild trust and extend a grace-filled hand. When we allow grace to live in our hearts, minds, and souls, God gives us the power to give it to others! What a glorious example Jesus has given us. Because of His great love for us, He has forgiven our sins, our offenses, and our mistakes. Now, we have the same opportunity to give forgiveness to those who have sinned against us. May we imitate the greatest show of love—Jesus’ death on the cross for us. His perfect love covered us and washed us clean. Take a moment to reflect on these scriptures:
No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 CSB)
Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8 CSB)
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)
Have you been a forgiving friend? If you struggle with this, be encouraged, because today is a new day! Let the Holy Spirit lead you in all truth that you may be a vessel of restoration and may God’s grace reside in you and flow from you!
Holding Fast to Hope,